Nike is the latest to jump into tech incubation with its Nike+ Accelerator, for helping the latest health-related startups. The program, organized by TechStars, focuses on startups in areas such as training, coaching, gaming, data visualization and the quantified self.
Accelerators are the new business schools, at least in the tech startup world. These programs, which typically involve a small amount of funding and mentorship and connections in exchange for a small amount of equity, have exploded in popularity.
The ten week program, which will accept ten companies, will begin in March 2013 in Portland, Ore. The program will conclude with demo days at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. and Silicon Valley. Nike is providing the office space, technical support and access to Nike’s APIs. TechStars, which is organizing the program, has much experience in the area, having launched its own program in a number of cities as well as helping others build their own accelerators. TechStars already has another vertical accelerator, TechStars Cloud.
For Nike, the program gives it access to new entrepreneurs and technology in this space. The company has been pushing technology in health and fitness with its Nike+ running app and more recently its Nike+ Fuel Band, which records and measures people’s daily activity.
Mentors in the program include Stefan Olander, Nike’s vice president of digital sport; David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars; Naveen Selvadurai, co-founder of Foursquare; and quantified-self guru Tim Ferriss.
Consumer health is a popular area for startups, with everything from devices such as the Fitbit and Jawbone Up to apps such as Runkeeper that help people keep track of their exercise routines.